The new Lincoln MKZ isn't a home run, but it's a solid first step for the brand as it begins a slow turnaround. In order to maintain momentum, each subsequent vehicle will need to be good, too, because any big misstep could sink the whole thing. Step two is the MKC "concept," which debuted in Detroit and is certain to hit showrooms sooner rather than later. We happened to see Klaus Busse, the head of interior design at Chrysler, checking out the MKC at the Lincoln stand during the show and asked him to share some impressions with us.
TT: What do you think of the new Lincoln MKC Concept?
BUSSE: I think what I like is it seems like it has beautiful sculpture. That's something American-designed cars had been a bit lost for a couple of years and now it's coming back, not only here on the Lincoln but across the line. There's much more hand-sculpted surfacing again and I think what happened in the past was, you know, in the past, they were hand-sculpted, then we all went digital and we had to relearn in the digital tools to still apply the human touch. You can see that now across the board, everyone has mastered this digital stage and now you have cars here like the Lincoln that clearly has beautiful, hand-sculpted parts.
So, you know, I like it a lot. The volumes are nice and there's nice detailing, but of course this is a show car, so it's tough to say what will survive in production, but the mirrors will not make it, the handles will probably not make it, that little funky detail will not make it, but the overall body, I think is quite successful.
TT: Funky detail?
BUSSE: That chrome detail (on the bottom of the doors), I bet my money that's not going to make it to production like that.
What usually designers do is, this is a production car and then they say "let's go to the show and make it a show car," so they throw a few little details on there like the small headlamps, small little details that usually are either not feasible or too expensive for production, but you can play with them in a show car.
I'm sure the seats will not be in production like that. I don't even know if they're going to have a four-seater or a five-seater, but hey, whatever right? The overall shape is quite attractive.
At the same time with the blisters, it's not that it's never been done before. I think, was it Alfa, like 10, 12 years ago with the concept SUVs when they did the blister you know, that way, you had the undercut. But again, you don't always have to do something brand-new to make it successful, so I think this looks promising.
TT: You said it reminded you of the Saab a little bit - in a good way or a bad way?
BUSSE: In a good way. I really liked Saab's wrap-around look and the integrated headlamp with the grille. Now this of course is the, I don't know what they call it, butterfly or whatever or two-wing grille, but if you stand on the side and glance over the front fender, the way the headlamp wraps around it, the thing that's dark and the white body, it reminded me of the Saab. But once you move around it you clearly see it's a Lincoln. I think it's nice.
TT: Do you like the new interpretation of the Lincoln grille?
BUSSE: I think I do. I'm not very much into history of Lincoln, but I did grow up with a Lincoln Continental toy car and it doesn't have anything of that. I know Lincoln a few years back did quite a nice show car, I forgot what it was called, and I thought that was a nice way for Lincoln to go. This is a different way. This is not the historic way of what Lincoln was known for, more of the step-surface. This is more like the typical sculpted way which, you know, maybe more of a mass-market approach, but nonetheless, it's nice. Is it a Lincoln? It's certainly nice.
TT: At Chrysler, you guys have done quite a few full-width taillights across the rear of the car. Have you seen the taillights on this? Do they work well?
BUSSE: There's a lot of lines on here, on the bottom, on the top. The proportion, the rear light, very slim, almost like, what is it? The Range Rover Evoque. That's good, simple proportions. It's probably too tough to judge that close, so it's tough to say. It's maybe a touch busy for me. The front and the body seem to be more pure and here is maybe one or two elements too many. But, show car, right?
TT: Do you think it's likely it'll be cleaned-up before production or does this look pretty production to you?
BUSSE: The rear light clusters don't seem like they would pass legislation, so they would probably have to change the inside. I'm sure they will not have a milled solid piece of aluminum encompassing the exhaust like this, so that's going to go away. I'm sure they're going to make the rear lamps real. Everything else, I don't know, you could do it. I don't know if the overhang is realistic enough of the tailgate to the bumper. You can do it but you will get penalized with insurance, so maybe they will put a little step in there you will see, but certainly that's going to go away.
TT: Do you think that will help the busyness of it?
BUSSE: It's tough to say. I'm sure the lamps are as clean as they are because there's nothing in there. Down there, they might take an element out, so that might help. I don't know why they think they need to have this departure ramp protection shield there because, for me, this is more like an on-road appearance of a vehicle, where I have a nice high seating position but it's more on-road. I, personally, wouldn't need that off-road cue down there to be honest, but hey, maybe that's the part they're gonna drop and that's gonna help it.
Overall, I think that it's nicely done. I really like the fact that the surfaces look hand-sculpted. It's clean.